Forgotten No More: Ada County Coroner Honors Final Resting Place for Unclaimed Remains 

click to enlarge Ada County Commissioner Dave Case and Ada County Coroner Dotti Owens lay a wreat at Remembering the Forgotten ceremony. - PATTY BOWEN
  • Patty Bowen
  • Ada County Commissioner Dave Case and Ada County Coroner Dotti Owens lay a wreat at Remembering the Forgotten ceremony.
A small gathering of citizens shivered in collective silence at the Terrace Lawn Memorial Gardens in Meridian as a long list of names was read aloud. Each name belonged to an Ada County resident whose remains had gone unclaimed for more than a year.

The Ada County Coroner’s Office and Cloverdale Funeral Home hosted the Remembering the Forgotten ceremony Friday, May 12—the second annual ceremony in which unclaimed remains are interred at the coroner’s office crypt.

This year, the remains of seven individuals were laid to rest, making 65 remains total. Prior to the donation of the crypt by Cloverdale Funeral Home in 2016, many unclaimed remains had been stored in a closet at the coroner’s office, sometimes for several years—the oldest dating back to 1992.

“It’s not a proper resting place—sitting in a closet in the coroner's office,” said Ada County Coroner Dotti Owens.

Cloverdale donated the crypt after Funeral Director and Grief Recovery Coordinator Bob Ross heard that the coroner's office was running out of space for the unclaimed remains.

“It was our privilege to provide the place,” said Cheryl Godbout, managing partner at Cloverdale Funeral Homes. “And Bob started the service, so they collectively had a memorial that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.”

Godbout hopes the service will “bring honor to” the individuals who are now in the crypt.

“A community should always remember their dead, no matter what the circumstances in life,” she said. “That measures the civility of a community. We should never forget anyone who is a part of us.”

click to enlarge PATTY BOWEN
  • Patty Bowen
According to Owens, the coroner’s office spent thousands of hours trying to find family members who could claim the remains—interviewing friends, checking online databases and even looking through belongings for names on the backs of photos.

A rising population has meant the rapid increase in the number of unclaimed remains in Ada County. The coroner’s office already has the unclaimed remains of 14 individuals lined up for next year’s ceremony—unless family members come forward in the meantime.

Although it’s common to assume many of the remains represent homeless people, Owens said few of them were. Rather, the majority were without family or their remains were abandoned.

“Some of them have had kids and family, and they’re the last remaining in their family. Some of them haven’t talked to family in 20, 30, 40 years,” said Jaimie Barker, who works for the coroner's office as a training officer and death investigator. “There’s really no rhyme or reason.”

Barker said the oldest unclaimed remains still held by the coroner's office belong to an individual identified only as "635," which were acquired in 2010 and have yet to elicit any leads.

“635, that’s all we’ve got,” he said. “It went over with an estate to a Youth Ranch, and it has no name. We don’t know if it is a boy or a girl.”

The crypt is located in the Terrace Lawn Memorial Gardens and is inscribed “Remembering the Forgotten” with the Ada County Coroner’s Office’s insignia. In the crypt are the remains of:
  • Anthony J. Avila
  • June Barrieau
  • Leroy Bloodshaw Jr.
  • Joseph C. Boudreau
  • Albert Branch
  • Susan Brendal
  • Thomas R. Brister
  • Lynn Collins
  • Loretta Cox
  • John Davis
  • Richard Dawson
  • Sharon Dickey
  • Hershel Dow
  • John Durick
  • Harlow Dunlap
  • Patrick A. Fickle
  • Quade L. Flint-Higgins
  • Jack Folsom
  • Gayle Gannon
  • Jose Garcia
  • Fredrick W. Gehrig
  • Dann Geiger
  • Darren C. Glover
  • Scott Gorby
  • Timothy Gray
  • JoAnn S. Hawks
  • Paul L. Harrison
  • Junior R. Hines
  • Joseph T. Johnston
  • Udo H. Jung
  • Richard Kelly
  • Bobby J. Kennedy
  • Brandy Leonard
  • Gary L. Leytham
  • Ula F. Mapusaga
  • Terrance McCann
  • Michael L. Michaelson
  • Charles R. Moore
  • Larry Newman
  • Bruce Parlin
  • Charles Parlin
  • Adele Plantier
  • Fredrick Raines
  • Thomas B. Rogatz
  • Jeremy R. Schell
  • Barbra Schmitz
  • Gerhard R. Schroeder
  • Montgomery L. Scott
  • Delores Sharp-Nelson
  • Charles Sharski
  • John F. Steman
  • Jackie D. Stephens
  • Michael Steplekoshi
  • Mark Stoneking
  • Donald E. Trogden
  • Darrell R. Tucker
  • Glorinne Ward
  • Verlon Winstead
  • Richard Yeoman
This year, the remains of John Barth, William G. Bretton, David Connell Jr., Leaha Lyons, Melva Spencer, Mark Wing and Ruth Wolford were added to the crypt.
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